On IMPD: "one moron" ruined it for the rest of us

Dateline: Thu 09 Sep 2010

I met the mother of an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department K-9 team member recently.

She was wearing, with pride, a grey T-shirt supporting the K-9 team -- those are the officers who work with police dog partners in the investigation of crimes and the arrest of suspected criminals. This woman understandably has a great deal of empathy for her son's work, and the subject of IMPD Officer David Bisard came up.

Bisard, of course, is the K-9 team officer charged in the fatality of motorcyclist Eric Wells -- he is the cop who registered a 0.19 blood alcohol level after the accident, in which Wells died and two of his friends were badly injured. That DUI evidence has been tossed out due to the fact that the law was not followed: the test was not administered by someone certified to draw blood.

So what did this woman's son think of all this?

"One moron ruined it for the rest of us, and three good officers (top brass Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ronald Hicks and Commander John Conley) were punished as a result," she said, paraphrasing her son's views. That's the rank-and-file speaking.

The moron is not Public Safety Director Frank Straub, nor is it Mayor Greg Ballard, nor is it Chief of Police Paul Ciesielski. It is Bisard to whom this officer referred. "One moron."

That is a fair assessment. A lot of the pot-stirring that has resulted is political and divided along party lines, including calls for Straub's resignation, etc.

The best deep analysis of this whole mess was provided, in my view, by Indianapolis Star reporters Heather Gillers and John Tuohy, who on Sunday Aug. 29, wrote the definitive piece (for now) on the troubles plaguing IMPD.

Among their observations: The merger a few years ago of the sheriff's department and the old Indianapolis Police Department did not go smoothly; there is still fallout from that. As the Star pointed out, "...since 2008, 27 (officers) have been arrested, investigated, demoted, resigned or been disciplined. 'IT'S GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL.'"

Bottom line, from Gillers and Tuohy's investigation: a sense of being undervalued and underpaid within IMPD "can motivate those already disposed to act out." Hell, yes.

We know there is a morale problem in IMPD. We know the majority of the 1,700 officers who serve are stand-up individuals who value loyalty and honor. But "one moron" can indeed ruin it for everyone else.

Fix the cause, and eliminate the symptoms whenever those disillusioned and undisciplined officers "act out."

Not saying it is easy. But it is pretty obvious.







John Howard [unverified] said:

The worst aspect of the Bisard story is the death and crippling of those victims.

The second-worst aspect is the cadre of people piling on, using the misdeeds of one officer as their paintbrush to smear the entire department with an ugly shade of contempt at every possible opportunity.

I, for one, am beginning to lose the ability to feel compassion for the biking community or to continue to applaud their repeated rallies and demonstrations because of the widespread vitriolic talk that continues to come out.

They have every reason to be angry.

They have no reason to gleefully assume every officer is another Bisard that hasn't yet had his tragic episode unfold.

And I'm damn tired of seeing them pop up on blogs or comment sections of media websites everywhere I turn.

2010-09-09 20:12:03

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow...I never even thought of directing my anger at the bikers, John Howard. But I appreciate your thoughts. It opened my eyes.

Just FYI, Ruth...23 out of 1800 is about 1.3%. Please tell me--what institution in your life--church, neighborhood, job, family, anything--do you get 98.3% satisfaction?

Not that 23 is acceptable. But we've got to keep a proper perspective here.

I don't hear many folks gleeful about this, John. ANy part of it. Nobody wins.

It is a little troubling, if true, that the chief and Public Safety director spent hours kibitzing about their collective image, immediately after the crash.

And it's troubling that we've allowed IMPD officers to purchase alcohol in uniform and transport it in public vehicles. Whether it's a written rule or not, common sense should've intervened before now.

I know the Wells family. They're reeling in this environment. They're grieving, naturally, and every moment of every day they get whip-sawed with this new revelation, or that new accusation. I wish I could stop that train, for them.

But no one can.

And at the end of the day--perhaps the worst purgatory is the one Officer Bisard and his family will have to face every day for the rest of their lives. Nothing good comes from that. Is it a fitting punishment? I can't answer that.

It's all so senseless.

2010-09-10 06:00:56

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Was the IPD corruption, exposed more than 35 years ago, truly stamped out, or did it metastisize?

T3's point about a small percentage of IMPD being naughty is valid only insofar as it deals with those who have been caught and exposed. There probably is a formula for calculating the number of active felons to those who are caught, which suggests the majority of miscreants are never exposed.

I believe the vast majority of cops are professional, dedicated civil servants. Without that trust, we'd all better be packing.

2010-09-10 10:07:05

hendy [Member] said:

I want to believe in public safety professionals. Like teachers, we pay them badly, and expect them to be absolutely superlative in each and every situation. Failing that, we're grumpy or worse.

To TTT's point, there's a lot of evidence of systematic failure within the county public safety service system, procedural and methodical failure. The Metro services worked in spite of some of that-- then catastrophically failed.

That there are some pissed off bikers is understandable, all of this could have been a car load of kids, etc. The guy was drunk and running around with official capacity while 2x over the alcohol level he should have had in his blood stream. The rest of the story is well known.

Ballard should have sent a lightning bolt thru the system without hesitation, once the facts were known. Instead, it'll still be the same old quid pro quo, and nothing will have been solved. In turn the community will become more agitated, and relationships will have to heal without the benefit of discipline from the top.

The first thing that needs to be done is to heal wounds from the merger, get pay straightened out, and get the reserves back in line after a major management shakeup. An oversight council would be wonderful, if it had teeth. This is a city not known for making lemonade out of lemons, but lemons is what we have.

2010-09-10 11:03:15

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I know a lot of LEOs, Hendy, and I've asked. Few if any find much merger residue.

It was poorly-handled at the time, but I think that's mostly gone.

2010-09-10 17:36:55

Linda [unverified] said:

Wasn't the person who drew the blood in deed certified, just not certified to draw for this type of case? Which makes me wonder why isn't there one type of certification for those who draw blood?
Does anyone know for sure---was Bisard responding to a call? I've heard yay and nay.
He had to be drunk when he drove his kids to soccer practice that morning, too.
I find it difficult to fathom why he still has a job and a drivers' license.
And...I thought it was verified that the chief and Straub were meeting about their public image soon after the accident--is that true?
A tragedy all around...

2010-09-11 13:02:34

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Bisard was responding to a call, but his presence was not sought or needed. That's because there's almost always a call which could benefit from K-9 presence. Just sayin'.

The blood draw was not supervised by a physician who is certified. That's the rub. Small technicality, but every damned police officer in town knows where to go. So do the brass. it's mentioned in three separate General Orders in the last year and a half. Any IMPD brass who signed off on that method of blood-draw should be severely disciplined.

Apologists have said, on other blogs, that good drunks can hide it. Blood tests don't lie. The test which Bisard gave, showed a double-drunk rating. Period.

The results cannot be used because the supervision was lax. It'd be like you trying to cash a check on which two signatures were required, and the second one was just an "X".

I don't understand why he has a license, either.

2010-09-11 17:40:25

mr x [unverified] said:

Sorry to write this...it was not just one moron. It is the culture of IPD...or IMPD...whatever they call themselves. They are enablers. It's a club...I understand...however they tend to overestimate the danger of the job, And complain about the pay and conditions they knew going in. They are like the Crips or the Bloods, except we pay them to keep our turf somewhat safe.

2010-09-14 16:37:14

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